Ever wondered why very beautiful scenes can make you so melancholy or sad? The Book of Life has a beautiful answer –
Beauty has served to highlight, by contrast, everything that has come before. We notice – in a way we couldn’t yesterday – how much disappointment, violence, meanness and humiliation has been written into the structure of our ordinary surroundings and routines and has from there seeped into our souls. Thanks to the little limestone church (that we’ll visit after breakfast) assembled by craftsmen around 1430 and ringing its bells for morning service, we’re finally in a position to feel how much agony is latent in our hearts. We haven’t been pain-free all this time, we’ve just been numb, holding in our sorrow because there was nowhere to discharge it, because there were no alternatives to it and nothing to remind us of the scale of our compromise.
The beauty of the landscape is like the very kind friend who, after a period of turmoil, puts a hand gently on ours and asks how we have been – and does so with such tenderness and intelligent concern, we surprise ourselves by bursting into tears that don’t stop for a very long time. It takes kindness until we can realise how much suffering we were holding in. It takes beauty until we realise how far we have drifted from our better selves.
Someone comes in and sees our eyes filled with tears. They wonder sweetly if they could fetch us anything to eat – or a taxi to go sightseeing. But we are far stranger than we can begin to explain. We are crying tears of joy at a goodness we have missed out on; we are crying because we don’t know how to nourish ourselves, we are crying at the sight of a happiness we are emotionally too cowardly, defensive and inept to know how to make our own. We are crying because we don’t want to be tourists, we want to be reborn.
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